The Committee considered the third periodic report of
Finland on the rights covered by articles 1 to 15 of
the Covenant (E/1994/104/Add.7) at its 37th, 38th and
40th meetings, held on 25 and 26 November 1996, and
adopted, at its 51st meeting held on 4 December 1996,
the following concluding observations.
The Committee expresses its appreciation to the Government
of Finland for the submission of its report, which follows
the Committee's guidelines regarding the form and contents
of States parties' reports. The Committee welcomes the
submission by Finland of comprehensive written answers
to its list of issues and expresses its satisfaction
at the frank and constructive dialogue established with
the State party, through a delegation composed of experts.
The Committee also notes with satisfaction the information
submitted by the Government of Finland in a core document
(HRI/CORE/1/Add.59/Rev.1), as well as the supplementary
information on the implementation of articles 13 to
15 of the Covenant submitted in response to the Committee's
request after the consideration of the second periodic
report of Finland in December 1991 (E/1989/5/Add.10).
B. Positive aspects
The Committee notes the generally high level of achievement
by Finland of its obligations in respect of the protection
of the rights set forth in the Covenant. In this regard,
the Committee expresses its appreciation of the recent
amendments which have been incorporated in the Constitution
concerning the protection of certain economic, social
and cultural rights of all persons under the State party's
jurisdiction. The Committee also notes with satisfaction
the existence and the activities of the Advisory Board
on Human Rights Affairs, composed of representatives
of various human rights organizations and of several
ministries, and of the Parliamentary Ombudsman, who
has competence in the field of human rights.
The Committee welcomes the measures taken to promote
equality between men and women, such as the establishment
of the Council of Equality, the Equality Ombudsman and
the recent adoption of legislation requiring at least
40 per cent representation of both sexes in government
appointed bodies at the national and local levels.
The Committee also welcomes the Government's policies
and programmes aimed at creating new jobs and at helping
the unemployed to join or return to the labour force,
through vocational training programmes, particularly
those aimed at young people.
The Committee notes with satisfaction the measures taken
to protect and shelter the victims of domestic violence,
in particular the activities deployed in this respect
by the government-subsidized Union of Shelter Homes.
The Committee also welcomes the recent criminalization
of marital rape as a means to combat the phenomenon
of violence against women.
The Committee notes with satisfaction the measures aimed
at promoting the teaching of the Roma and Sami languages
in schools and welcomes the possibility provided to
the elected representatives of the Sami people to address
the Parliament on issues affecting their interests.
The Committee notes that, despite the difficulties due
to the economic recession, Finland regularly contributes,
although at a reduced level, to programmes of international
cooperation, thus potentially promoting the realization
of economic, social and cultural rights in other countries.
C. Factors and difficulties impeding the implementation
of the Covenant
The Committee notes that the economic recession facing
Finland and the policies adopted to meet the convergence
criteria for participating in the European Economic
and Monetary Union have had significant consequences
for the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights
by the Finnish population as a whole, and by vulnerable
social groups in particular. In this regard, the Committee
notes that the recent budgetary cuts in social expenditure,
as well as economic restructuring and the decentralization
of social service arrangements are factors which may
affect the full implementation of the provisions of
the Covenant. However, the Committee notes the Government's
view that European Union membership has been a useful
instrument towards fulfilling its economic policy goals,
including those aimed at fighting unemployment.
D. Principal subjects of concern
The Committee notes that, although the provisions of
the Covenant may be directly invoked before the courts
or referred to by the courts, this has not yet been
the case. In this respect, the Committee expresses concern
that lawyers and judges may not be sufficiently aware
of the rights enshrined in the Covenant.
The Committee is concerned that, although equality between
men and women is established in the law, it is not fully
achieved in practice, in particular in the field of
equal remuneration, and that, in general, women continue
to encounter more obstacles than men in advancing to
higher professional positions.
While it notes with satisfaction the recent decrease
in the percentage of the population who are unemployed,
the Committee is still concerned that the level of unemployment
remains high, especially among young people, immigrants
Although it notes that collective agreements in some
sectors of professional activity contain provisions
for the determination of minimum wages, the Committee
is concerned that no minimum wage is guaranteed by law.
The Committee expresses its concern that the major cuts
in social security and other welfare expenditures have
reduced the disposable incomes of single parents and
young families with children, have affected the situation
of persons without regular income under the Sickness
Insurance Act, and have led to the cessation of adjustments
to pensions and unemployment benefits.
The Committee expresses its concern at reports according
to which members of the Roma minority have been discriminated
against when decisions have been taken by some authorities
in respect of the allocation of publicly-owned dwellings.
The Committee regrets the lack of official statistical
data and other information with regard to problems such
as domestic violence, child abuse, child pornography,
child and adolescent suicide and alcohol abuse, the
latter also affecting children and adolescents, which
prevents both the authorities and the Committee from
ascertaining the real extent of these problems.
The Committee expresses its concern at the recent increase
in the school drop-out rate, which particularly affects
children from economically disadvantaged groups and
children belonging to minorities.
E. Suggestions and recommendations
The Committee recommends that specifically targeted
training programmes be launched by the authorities to
increase the awareness of judges and lawyers of the
rights enshrined in the Covenant.
The Committee recommends that the Government intensify
its efforts to ensure that equality between men and
women, in particular with regard to employment and salary
matters, is effective in practice.
The Committee urges that consideration be given to enacting
legislation providing for minimum wages, and their periodical
adjustment, so that protection be ensured also to workers
who are not protected by sectoral collective agreements.
The Committee encourages the Government to take adequate
measures to ensure that the reduction of the budgetary
allocations for social welfare programmes does not result
in the violation of the State party's obligations under
the Covenant. The Committee particularly lays emphasis
on the need to protect the rights of socially vulnerable
groups, such as young families with children, refugees
and elderly or unemployed persons.
The Committee draws the attention of the authorities
to the need to eliminate discrimination of any kind
in the exercise of the rights set forth in the Covenant,
especially the right to housing.
The Committee encourages the Government to continue
its efforts to combat the problems of alcoholism, domestic
violence, child and adolescent suicide and child abuse
and it recommends that statistical data be collected
and that thorough and targeted studies be conducted
on the extent, the causes and the consequences of such
problems. The Committee particularly draws the attention
of the authorities to the importance to be given to
detection measures and preventive policies. It also
stresses the need to ensure that specific and appropriate
penal legislation be enacted and applied in order to
combat child abuse and child pornography.
The Committee also draws the attention of the State
party to the emerging problem of school drop-out, which
mainly affects children coming from vulnerable social
groups, such as economically disadvantaged children
or children belonging to minorities. In this regard,
the Committee recommends that specific measures be taken
to ensure that these children can complete their studies
to the extent of their academic capacities.
The Committee recommends that the concerns expressed
in the present concluding observations, as well as the
issues raised during the discussion of the third periodic
report which remain unanswered, be addressed in the
State party's fourth periodic report.
The Committee encourages the State party to widely disseminate
the Concluding observations adopted by the Committee
following the consideration of the State party's third